Shiur #49: Berakha Acharona The Definition of Solids and Liquids Combining Foods for the Berakha Acharona

  • Rav David Brofsky



(This is the final shiur on the topic of berakha acharona. I combined all of the shiurim into one file: Berakha Acharona combined. We will continue our study of the laws of berakhot next week.)


In the previous shiurim, we discussed the laws of the berakha acharona. We learned that one only says a berakha acharona (Al Ha-Michya, Borei Nefashot) after eating a ke-zayit of food. We dedicated shiurim to the study of the size and measurement of a ke-zayit.


Last week, we learned that one only recites a berakha acharona after eating a ke-zayit of food in a shiur of time known as kedei akhilat peras – the amount of time is takes to eat half of a loaf of bread. We discussed the size of this loaf (three [Rambam] or four [Rashi] ke-beitizim), and summarized the opinions of the Acharonim regarding the length of this time.


Regarding drinking, we noted that the Rishonim debate whether a berakha acharona is recited after eating a ke-zayit or a revi’it of liquid. Tosafot (Berakhot 39a and Yoma 79a) suggest that the shi’ur may be the same as for food, a ke-zayit, while the Rambam (Hilkhot Berakhot 1:2) rules that one only says a Borei Nefashot after drinking a revi’it, which is the amount of liquid displaced by one and a half eggs. The Rosh (Berakhot 6:24), and subsequently the Shulchan Arukh (210:1), cites both views and rules that one should preferably drink less than a ke-zayit or more than a revi’it in order to avoid a situation of doubt. It is customary to say a berakha acharona only after drinking a revi’it of liquid (commonly accepted to be approximately 86 cc, the volume of an egg and a half).


In addition, the Rishonim discuss whether the amount of time during which one must drink a revi’it of liquid in order to become obligated to say a berakha acharona is the same as the time period for food (Ra’avad, Hilkhot Terumot, 10:3) or shorter, “kedei sheti’at revi’it,” the amount it time in which one ordinarily drinks a revi’it of liquid (Rambam, Hilkhot Shevitat He-Asor 2:4; Hilkhot Ma’akhalot Asurot 14:9; Hilkhot Terumot ibid.). The Shulchan Arukh (212:10) rules in accordance with the Rambam, while the Vilna Gaon rules in accordance with the Ra’avad. The Magen Avraham (210:1) assumes that this debate applies to a berakha acharona as well. We discussed at length the definition of this shi’ur and whether and how it applies to alcohol and hot drinks.


This week, we will conclude our study of the laws of the berakha acharona.


Definition of Liquids


Last week, we discussed the differences between liquids and solids regarding the laws of the berakha acharona. There are some foods whose status is in doubt, and it is therefore unclear whether they should be treated as solids or liquids with regard to a berakha acharona.


For example, should we view ice-cream as a solid, in which case one says a berakha acharona after eating a ke-zayit within the time of kedei akhilat peras? Or is it a liquid? In that case, it would be unlikely that one would be obligated to recite a berakha achrona, as it is uncommon toeat a revi’it of ice-cream within the time it generally takes to drink a revi’it. In addition, as we learned previously, the blessing Borei Peri Ha-Gefen (when one drinks wine as well) exempts other beverages. Must one say a blessing before eating ice-cream after saying Kiddush (and drinking wine) on Shabbat morning?  


The Shulchan Arukh (208:6) rules that a “daysa” (soft, grain-based cereal) that is fluid enough to be drunk is viewed as a liquid; if it is thick enough to be chewed, it is treated as a solid. Similarly, the Shulchan Arukh Ha-Rav (Seder Birkat Ha-Nehenin 8:8) writes: “Food which has melted to the extent that it is fit for drinking is not longer considered to be food. So too a liquid which solidifies and can be eaten is no longer considered to be a liquid.” (See also Ve-Zot Ha-Berakha, pg. 44 and pg. 100).


Based on this distinction, ice-cream, jelly, pudding, and soft cheeses (cottage cheese) would certainly be viewed as solids. More viscous dairy products would be viewed as liquids.  R. Ovadia Yosef (Yabi’a Omer OC 8:25) disagrees and maintains that these foods should be viewed as liquids, regarding the laws of berakhot.


Tziruf – A Berakha Acharona after Eating Different Foods


Different foods upon which the same berakha rishona is recited combine to the shi’ur of a ke-zayit. Therefore, if one eats half of a ke-zayit of an apple, and another half of a ke-zayit of an orange, one says Borei Nefashot afterwards. Similarly, if one eats half a ke-zayit of a fruit of the seven species and another half of a ke-zayit of another fruit of vegetable, one says Borei Nefashot (Mishna Berura 210:1). Liquids and solids do not combine to reach a shi’ur.


We learned in previous shiurim that when eating two foods, one says the blessing over the ikkar (the more important, primary food), which exempts the tafel (the secondary food). Similarly, a berakha acharona is said only over the primary food, assuming that one ate a ke-zayit (Shulchan Arukh 210:1; see Mishna Berura 210:1 as well).


The Acharonim discuss how to view a cake, the majority of the ingredients of which are usually egg, oil, and sugar, and not flour. Must one say a berakha acharona after eating a ke-zayit of cake or after eating a ke-zayit of flour?


The Magen Avraham (208:15; see also Derisha 208:1) maintains that one who eats a ke-zayit of cake or cookies, even if he does not eat a ke-zayit of flour, says the blessing of Al Ha-Michya. This seems to be the opinion of most Rishonim (see, for example, Rif, Berakhot 37b; Rambam, Hilkhot Berakhot 3:11-12; Rosh, Berakhot 6:7, et al.), who do not mention that one must eat a ke-zayit of flour. The Chayei Adam (50:21) records that this is the popular custom. The Mishna Berura 208:48) cites this as well, although he concludes that preferably one should only say a berakha acharona after estimating that he ate a ke-zayit of flour.


R. Moshe Feinstein (Iggerot Moshe, OC 1:71; see also Minchat Yitzchak 9:15 and Teshuvot Ve-Hanhagot 2:132) disagrees and expresses his amazement at the custom cited by the Mishna Berura. He insists that one should only say the Al Ha-Michya after eating an amount of cake which contains a ke-zayit of flour. Although, as mentioned, the custom seems to be in accordance with the first view, many suggest being stringent and eating a ke-zayit of flour. While hard, yeast cakes are generally mostly flour, in some softer cakes, flour may only be a ¼ or even less of the ingredients. As we mentioned previously, many maintain that a ke-zayit is indeed the size of an actual olive (i.e. 3-4 cc), in which case it would not be difficult to consume this quantity of flour, even according to the stricter opinion.


One must say a separate blessing on fruit, cheese, and other fillings, and they do not combine with the flour to equal a ke-zayit. Therefore, at times one may eat a very small piece of cake with a ke-zayit of filling and say only a Borei Nefashot.


Borei Nefashot


As discussed in previous shiurim, the blessing of Borei Nefashot is said after drinking (except wine) and eating rice, meat, fruits (not of the seven species), and vegetables.


Most Acharonim (see, for example, Shulchan Arukh 202:11 and Mishna Berura 202:55) maintain that unlike the berakha rishona of She-Hakol, Borei Nefashot is not a “general” blessing and cannot be said after eating foods which require a different blessing, such as Birkat Ha-Mazon or Me’ein Shalosh (Al Ha-Michya, Peirot,and Gefen). Some (see Kaf Ha-Chaim 202:79) maintain that be-di’avad, one who says Borei Nefashot after even a food that requires the Berakha Me’ien Shalosh fulfills his obligation. Furthermore, R. Moshe Feinstein (Iggerot Moshe, OC 1:74) suggests that if one does not have a siddur and does not know the Berakha Me’ein Shalosh by heart, he should say Borei Nefashot instead.


R. Ovadia Yosef (Yechaveh Da’at 2:22) disagrees and insists that Borei Nefashot is not a general blessing that exempts from other blessings, even in extenuating circumstances. Indeed, he takes this opportunity to implore us to know blessings by heart so that one does not find himself unable to say a blessing because he does not have a siddur.


Al Ha-Michya and Al Ha-Gefen


If one ate a ke-zayit of mezonot but is unsure whether he drank a revi’it of wine or if he ate a ke-zayit of fruit from the seven species, since he is already obligated to say Al Ha-Michya, he should mention wine (Al Ha-Gefen) or the fruits (Al Ha-Peirot) as well (Taz 208:19).


Furthermore, if one ate a ke-zayit of fruits from the seven species and a ke-zayit of other fruits, the blessing of “Al Ha-Peirot” suffices, as he mentions “fruits” in the blessing. If, however, he ate vegetables, he must say a Borei Nefashot as well (Shulchan Arukh 208:13). The Mishna Berura (208:64) notes that some Acharonim disagree and maintain that the blessing of Al Ha-Peirot covers the vegetables as well. Therefore, he suggests that one say the Borei Nefashot first, lest the blessing of Al Ha-Peirot cover both the fruit and the vegetables.


The Sha’arei Teshuva (208:9) cites Acharonim who maintain that although one should preferably say Borei Nefashot after eating rice, if one said Al Ha-Michya, or if one ate other cookies or crackers with the rice and said Al Ha-Michya, the rice is exempted. Some Acharonim (Kaf Ha-Chaim 208:41; Ben Ish Chai, Pinchas 18) maintain that even le-khatchila, one should say only one blessing. This is also the view of R. Ovadia Yosef (Yalkut Yosef 208:12). Others (see Shevet Ha-Levi 9:65) insist that the even the opinions cited by the Sha’arei Teshuva are somewhat novel, and surely le-khatchila one should say both blessings.


We noted previously that just as the blessing Borei Peri Ha-Gefen exempts other drinks, the blessing of Al Ha-Gefen exempts not only the wine, but other beverages as well (Shulchan Arukh 208:15).


Waiting Before the Berakha Acharona


The mishna (Berakhot 51b) teaches that one may say the berakha acharona “until the food in his stomach has been digested.” The Talmud (ibid. 53b) explains that this is “as long as he is not hungry.” The Mishna Berura (184:20) records that some Acharonim estimate this to be about 72 minutes after one finishes eating. Seemingly, this should depend on the specific food and person. If one feels satiated even after 72 minutes have passed, one may still say the blessing. The Acharonim write that when in doubt, a person should eat another ke-zayit of food in order to be obligated to say the berakha acharona.


Next week, we will begin our study of Birkat Ha-Mazon. We will first learn the laws of Mayim Acharonim and Zimun, and we will then study the laws of Birkat Ha-Mazon itself.